Feb 10 is the start of the lunar new year, which to me is “Chinese New Year” because of my Taiwanese ethnicity. In Taiwan a 9-day holiday officially began. There’s a number of traditions, such as cleaning the house thoroughly to welcome the new year, banquets, gift giving, wearing of new clothing, and so forth. Here in frigid New Hampshire, I celebrated by doing a bachelor-pass over the kitchen and living room, buying some appropriate candies from the local Vietnamese market, and cooking a nice-looking meal for myself with some pu-erh tea.
THE MEAL: Far from traditional, it’s a mix of white and brown rice, some frozen broccoli, some pickled Japanese-style radish, and marinated pork loin dredged in tapioca flour then deep-fried for 90 seconds in 350 degree oil. The marinade consisted of soy sauce, sugar, 5-spice powder, some dry sherry, and garlic powder. I just think it’s pretty.
THE TEA: It’s pu-erh tea that my Dad brought me several years ago. Earthy and subtly complex, it’s a milder tea that helps cut through the grease. I probably shouldn’t be drinking it with this meal, for all I know, but I had brewed some earlier.
THE CANDY: Although it’s from a Vietnamese market, it looks just like the stuff we would get in Taiwan: peanut squares, sesame seed squares, some peanuts coated in some kind of thick sugar shell, and a gummy sesame chew. The peanut squares are my favorite; they are like peanut brittle, but structurally are more like Rice Krispy bars.